Case Creek OCR

With so many large OCR events going on across the country these days it’s easy to forget that many started off as a small, local event. I always try to include a few of these into my race schedule every year due in large part to the down-home feel and personal attention to detail. The costs associated with these events are generally far less without a huge drop off in the quality of the obstacles.

If you’re a competitive athlete these smaller events may offer you a better chance to place due to the lower participation numbers while still making you work for it and there is a good chance the staff will greet you by name at the registration tents if you are a repeat attendee.  It was for all these reasons and more that I made my way to the small town of Coal Valley, Illinois on August 11th for the 6th annual Case Creek OCR.

The 3.4-mile event was held on a beautiful farm filled with rolling hills tucked into the far Northwest corner of the state. The course had a modest elevation change of around 700 feet but very few sections of the course were flat making the race feel more vertical that it was. The race director made excellent use of the surrounding farmland and wooded acreage along with a few jaunts through the race namesake, Case Creek.

The event had two different race categories, Competitive, which was the first heat of the day with open class heats taking off throughout the rest of the morning. The competitive heat awarded awesome custom plaques to the top three men and women in age group categories separated by 10-year spans and looked really cool hung on your wall at home.

The race started off as it always has by sending runners up the hill in front of the main house before taking a turn sending athletes along the edge of a field where a series of low hurdles were situated.

The next obstacle was the only one that I think Case Creek should get rid of as two blue plastic 55-gallon drums were laying on the ground and required an athlete to crawl through them. Now, this was a super tight fit for any large person and the drums were not really secured to the ground causing me to almost run the rest of the race with the barrel around my waist! From there things improved greatly as the next obstacles presented included a wall climb and low crawl along with a set of monkey bars suspended over a water pit.

The herd had not thinned out much by the time racers reached the weaver and cargo net climb causing a bit of a bottleneck but from here on out, I had no trouble with lines at an obstacle. After a log carry the course got down and dirty by sending athletes through a series of ravines with fallen trees laid over the top making many racers get down on all fours and crawl through the slop to escape. This was an excellent place for Case to set up their balance beam made of logs as racers shoes were still caked with mud from the previous low crawl.

Athletes now made their way back towards the festival area where 5 obstacles were set up within easy viewing distance for family and friends but not before finishing a log hoist which was very light and hardly slowed down an athlete at all.

First up was a low crawl over a section of fence followed by a short atlas stone carry. A low hurdle was presented right after dropping off your atlas stone followed by a set of muscle-unders requiring an athlete to lift a wooden wall up before scooting under to the next. A unique cargo net, suspended off the ground by 2 climbing walls, was the last obstacle in this section. Racers now made their way out of the festival area in one final loop scaling a giant tire wall on their way out. This final loop included such obstacles as a rope swing and mud pit crawls and ended by having racers wade against the current through the creek and back to the festival area.

The only thing I might suggest to Case Creek is to maybe stagger the men’s and women’s competitive heats by 5 minutes to help with a few of the bottlenecks. So if you’re into smaller events or not a big fan of crowds give Case Creek a try. Everyone there is super friendly and your low race fee gets you free pics and parking along with a tee shirt and post-race refreshments.  A separate kid’s only course will be held on the weekend of September 8th so get your little one signed up!

Case Creek OCR – 2016 Review

13912774_1037076879740935_8909612483342243276_nThe Case Creek OCR was held on August 13th near the Quad Cities in Northwest Illinois. This small, family run OCR was tucked along the rolling hills that sported a modest 270 feet of elevation change along a 3.4 mile course. Having run this course before, I was looking forward to checking out their new for 2016 Elite wave, and while their Elite numbers were low, the competition was still great. The age groups for their newly added Elite waves were broken down into 18-35 and 36 and up for both male and female. I personally like to see the masters class start at 40, but then again, I’m 43 and have a biased opinion!

13935046_1036983153083641_2743403375773525502_nThe event started off with the men’s Elite at 8:45 with the female Elites starting 15 minutes later. The start line was located just inside the festival area and athletes were led up a gentle hill and along a hay field which they placed a series of 3-foot walls to jump over. This led to a one-time tractor tire flip and was the first of seven stations where a gel wristband was given out upon completion. A 15 burpee penalty was given out to those unable to complete the Elite obstacles. From there athletes continued along the mowed hay field to a set of blue plastic tubes where ice was waiting for you as you came out, just to wake you up a bit. Once you shook off the remaining ice chips it was into the corn field where a path was cut leading you up to a muddy slope to climb and a log cabin type house that you had to climb up and over. Upon completion of the treehouse climb, racers were led back into the corn fields.  Now out of the corn we were faced with the toughest obstacle at Case Creek, the weaver.  That was followed up by a monkey bar set over a murky water pit. The weaver was difficult as always but the monkey bars were pretty standard, just straight across. Now off into the woods, we encountered more of the rolling hills where a light log carry was placed. The terrain slowly became more hilly and muddy from here on out.

13921124_1028632450585378_5022912427248080620_nAn 8-foot wall with a step was next up for the back half of the course leading to a series of trenches where logs were laid across to make sure the tall people didn’t have it too easy. A large cargo net was the next obstacle to complete then it was back into the corn for more trail running, which led athletes to a series of log balance beams. These were a bit rough because they spun and if your weight wasn’t distributed correctly and you fell you had to start over. After picking out any splinters one might have picked up on the logs, it was back into the forest for more trail running and on to the high knees tire run. Now able to hear the crowd back at the festival area, Case set up a rope swing over a water pit and a series of low crawl mud mounds that left you caked with mud! The last serious obstacle on the way to the finish was a quarter mile run against the current in the knee high water of Case Creek. If you had anything left in the tank, you needed it here for sure. Now back at the festival area, one only needed to navigate a tire ladder up out of the creek where the finish line waited to be crossed.

13920745_1037560239692599_5779602324436437056_nWhile I didn’t find Case Creek OCR to be the most difficult obstacle race, it was still challenging and fun. This race was maybe a little more trail run than obstacle race and would be a great race for someone new to OCR to get his/her feet wet. Parking and pictures were free along with some nice trophies for the Elite top 3 in their respective age brackets.  Advocare and Max Muscle had booths set up and snacks and drinks were provided for the finishers.  So if your race schedule has an opening during the second week of August, you might want to fill it by racing the Case Creek OCR next year!13934665_1037556553026301_279723469933742498_n